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    Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are transported to the front line of the town of Chaddade in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasaka, on February 19, 2016

    Syrian Democratic Forces Prepare to Blitz Daesh in Key Strategic Town

    © AFP 2017/ Delil souleiman
    Middle East
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    The Syrian Democratic Forces, including elements of the Kurdish people's protection units (YPG), are preparing to launch a large-scale operation to liberate the strategically important city of Manbij, about 35 km from the Turkish border in the northwestern Aleppo province, from the Daesh (ISIL) militant group.

    According to information received by Sputnik Kurdish from the SDF command, the operation, which will be assisted by air support from the US-led anti-terrorist coalition, aims at liberating the city, which serves as a major stronghold for the Daesh jihadists in northwestern Syria, and is an intersection of several major highways, including the M4.

    The operation was expected to begin last month, but was delayed due to Turkish opposition, Sputnik Kurdish explained. Ultimately, Washington is believed to have pressed Ankara into accepting the need for the operation, and active preparations, including the delivery of heavy weapons, have begun south of the Kobani Canton.

    Scheduled to begin later this week, the operation's initial stage is aimed at the liberation of the city of Manbij and several villages near the town of al-Bab, to the city's southwest along the M4.

    In is expected that the liberation of villages around Al-Bab will eventually allow for the creation of a corridor between the Syrian Kurdish cantons of Kobani and Afrin, presently separated by Daesh-controlled territory. 

    Essentially, the liberation of Manbij and al-Bab would bring the anti-Daesh coalition closer to cutting off Daesh in Syria's Aleppo province, thus slamming shut the porous Turkish border through which men, materials and weaponry have flowed into Syria over the past two years.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Abu Leila, the commander of a detachment of troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces, commented on the details of the operations.

    "To knock Daesh out of Manbij, we have created a structure called the Manbij Military Council. The Council consists of 13 members, all of them Arab residents of the city…Its main task will be to liberate the city from the Daesh militants. But we aren't going to stop a Manbij; our forces will fight Daesh across the entire region."

    Manbij, Sputnik Kurdish explained, is strategically important to the Syrian Democratic Forces because it serves as a potential link between the cities of Jarabulus, Al-Bab, and the cantons of African and Kobani. In late 2012, Manbij was captured by the Free Syrian Army, before falling to Daesh in 2014.

    In the past several months, the Syrian Democratic Forces were able to liberate the key town of Tishrin, along with the Tishrin damn, about 70 km south of Kobani, effectively cutting a major Daesh supply route across the Euphrates. The liberated town lies about 17 km from Manbij.

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    Tags:
    military operations, combat operations, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Daesh, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Turkey, Syria, United States
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